One of the most challenging parts of running your own business is that you are constantly faced with situations where it isn’t always obvious what you should do next. We refer to those gray areas as the overlapping of the 3 Circles. If you can’t comfortably slot the situation into the Product/Service, Marketing/Sales, or Administrative category it’s easy to get stuck. We’ve been helping owners of small companies get “unstuck” since 2003 and we can probably help you too if you are coachable.
How do you make sense of your small business? At times, using a legal pad or white board to sketch out the situation can provide clarity and guidance with our most complicated worries. To us, it starts with sketching out the 3 Circles and adding in the information from your business.
What does your company do?
This was easy to answer when you first got into your business. In fact, it’s likely your expertise in the Product/Service area is what drove you to get into business for yourself in the first place. But as the years have gone by, you, your business, and your Product/Service offerings have likely grown to the point where it’s more and more difficult to answer this question in 10 seconds or less.
So what are your Products/Services? Does everyone in your company know? Do they all answer this question the same way? Do your customers know?
It makes good sense to discuss your Product/Service in the context of your market.
Who are your best customers and why? What do they look like? Why do they buy from you and not someone else? What makes your Product/Service different from your competition? How do you find more of the right customers for your business? How do you fire the bad customers? A good Marketing Plan starts with answering these questions and many more.
As the owner of a small business, chances are you are also the top sales person. In fact, you’re probably pretty good at it, even if you don’t particularly care for it. The fact that you’re an expert at the Product/Service component combined with you being the owner gives you a certain passion that can be difficult for a potential customer to resist.
We find many folks use the terms Marketing and Sales interchangeably. While the two are intricately intertwined with Marketing driving Sales, they are very different. Have you ever found yourself saying, “All I need is more sales” as a way to rectify a situation? The best place to start is with a good Marketing Plan that includes more than simply delivering a stellar Product/Service to your existing customers.
This is all the other “stuff” that goes into running your business.
These are all the dirty little secrets no one warned you about when you got into business for yourself. Being the boss sounded great until you started getting pulled into more and more of this Administrative stuff.
How about making sense of your financial reports so you know how your company is doing at any given point in time without having to call your accountant? How do you keep your finger on the pulse of your business without actually being there every minute of every day? What data are you gathering about your business and what reports do you review on a regular basis? How do you know you won't run out of money?
How do you find, train, incent, compensate, and retain good people you can depend on to get the job done? How do you get rid of the ones who don’t fit and create unnecessary drama for your business? How do you keep track of who is doing what and actually hold people accountable so everything doesn’t continue to fall on your shoulders?
Not to mention all the other stuff like systems, regulations, IT, planning, purchasing, contracts. This list of stuff often seems endless.